Eric Clapton celebrates his 67th birthday today, born in Surrey, England on March 30, 1945, with guitar in hand.

And I, along with the other millions who love his music, am grateful.

Forget the teen idols back in the day, I had no interest in them, but instead I began my proper worship of the Guitar God at around the age of 9 or 10, when Clapton was kicking it in that little band called Cream.

Although I've been madly in love with guitar Gods ever since I first discovered E.C., including Duane Allman, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Eric was my first.

And you know what they say about your first.

One of my favorite albums by Clapton as a solo artist was 1974's "461 Ocean Boulevard", his second studio album.

If you know that album, then you know there are some gems on it, including "Let It Grow", with it's "Stairway to Heaven"-like progression (but nevertheless, stunning in its own right), as well as a re-arrangement of the traditional song, "Motherless Children", particularly poignant because Eric grew up believing his mother was his sister and was raised by his maternal grandparents, thus (in a sense) motherless himself.

Happy birthday to a true musician, who imbues every note with soul and emotion, and elevates technical prowess with the spirit of the artist.